October 11, 2019
HCPS Will Not Outsource Custodians
Union Wins Fight Against Privatization in the 8th Largest School District in the Country
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA – HILLSBOROUGH SCHOOL EMPLOYEES FEDERATION (HSEF) 4154
On March 8, 2019 school district officials in Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) sent communications to Principals at roughly 260 school sites with instructions to inform their custodial staff that their jobs could drastically change by the 2019-2020 school year. The message for nearly 1700 employees was that the school district was actively seeking bids from private companies to take over custodial operations in the 8th largest school district in the country.
The information was vague and union officials quickly learned that employees in some cases were simply handed a piece of paper with the information. That same day the district broadcast the Request For Proposals (RFP), which brought in the attention of over 70 vendors seeking multimillion dollar contracts!
Leaders of the Hillsborough School Employees federation (HSEF) immediately set in to motion a strategic and organized campaign to protect their members and the students of the neighborhood public schools they serve. Privatization of public school operations rarely work in producing the cost savings district leaders desire and these failed attempts negatively impact employees and ultimately students.
Thanks to a focused strategy including multiple protests at the School Board headquarters, regular media appearances, and weekly communications that ensured the facts were kept straight, the fight to keep custodial employees represented by HSEF was strong and focused. Behind the scenes HSEF President Iran Alicea and Vice-president Stephanie MacNeel met individually with School Board Members and school district administrators to fight for a Centralization plan that would not only produce savings for the district, but more importantly keep the jobs of hard working employees in house. These meetings were used to provide facts and numbers surrounding this action and give complete and detailed briefings on the union’s position against privatization. This included clear analysis of the RFP, the budget & information that was at times incorrectly shared by the district with the public and employees about the matter.
On Wednesday October 9, 2019, after seven months of calling for Centralization of HCPS Custodial Operations, HSEF leaders along with HCPS operations administrators, principals and other stakeholders, met in a committee to begin the implementation of the Centralization model they had been demanding and fighting for. The district will abandon seeking outside contractors to take over custodial operations and move forward with a true pilot program for Centralization. The pilot will begin this school year in a number of schools and eventually be fully implemented across the district in the school years to come. More detailed information about the implementation will come before the School Board as the process moves forward.
HSEF would like to thank staff and volunteers who worked the countless hours to stop privatization efforts. Thanks to strong alliances with other labor organizations through the West Florida Central Labor Council (CLC) and the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association (HCTA) the message spread widely and clearly across the state of Florida and the nation. Most importantly the members and represented employees of HSEF made their voices heard and the district listened!